Recently, Indonesia tried turning away over 100 desperate Rohingya refugees. Thankfully, the government backtracked and let these refugees land after towing the overcrowded vessel onto shore.
A leaking boat packed with more than 100 Rohingya refugees was towed ashore in Indonesia on Friday, days after the government reversed an earlier decision to turn the stranded vessel away.
The reversal was a rare instance of good news for a mostly stateless ethnic minority whose members have been fleeing persecution in Myanmar and poverty in Bangladesh for years.
While Indonesia should be applauded for taking the correct approach and accepting these refugees, its initial stance and rationale of denying them shouldn’t be quickly overlooked.
Dozens of Rohingya refugees who were intercepted after their boat ran into trouble off the coast of Indonesia’s Aceh province were being sent into Malaysian waters, authorities said.
At least 100 people, mostly women, and children, onboard a wooden vessel said to be taking on water were denied refuge in Indonesia and instead pushed into the neighbouring Southeast Asian country.
When Muslim refugees arrive after escaping wholesale genocide, Muslim nations should be the first in opening their borders and assisting in whatever way possible.
So, what could have possibly warranted Indonesia’s prior decision to reject these refugees and let them try their luck at sea?
…Navy official Dian Suryansyah said Rohingya were not Indonesian citizens and the army could not “simply bring them in as refugees”. “This is in line with government policy,” he added.
…officials at Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had expressed reluctance to help the stranded Rohingya due to the coronavirus pandemic
These are ridiculous excuses but which one takes the cake?
One entails the idea that government-issued pieces of paper qualify these refugees rather than the fact that these women and children are human beings (Muslims no less!) created by Allah. The other excuse entails that the Indonesian government is scared of the possibility that these Rohingya may give someone a runny nose.
In either case, the Rohingya were almost out of luck due to trivial (and arguably spineless) rationale. Unfortunately, these situations aren’t too uncommon.
In recent years, large numbers of Muslim Rohingya have fled Myanmar, where they face persecution.
..Some have attempted to make their way to Malaysia, a nearby Muslim country which has come to be seen as a safe haven in the region.
…But Malaysia has now refused to allow refugee boats to land, citing the Covid-19 pandemic as a reason.
It’s no secret that Muslim countries have been set back heavily due to the West because of wars and sanctions. But does that absolve capable Muslim countries from turning away their dying Muslim brothers and sisters?
The West has no right to lecture Muslim nations on ethics, morality, and human rights but at the same time, there should be a sense of personal responsibility to take care of the vulnerable especially when Allah has blessed the Ummah with the means to do so.
Hopefully, this good news sets a precedence for other nations to welcome the Rohingya with open arms.